Those dashboard lights pack a lot of information about your car’s well being. Be sure you know what they’re saying.
It doesn’t matter where you’re going – work, kids’ soccer practice, the nearest farmer’s market – your trip always starts out the same. You turn on the ignition and your dashboard lights up with funny looking icons. If you’re like most drivers, you pretty much ignore them and head off to your destination.
Most of the time, that’s okay. But sometimes, one or more of those lights doesn’t come on or, conversely, stays on, signaling a problem. That’s when you need to know what your car is trying to tell you.
“Occasionally one light might stay on, indicating there’s a problem. Be equally alert if one or more warning lights don’t briefly illuminate. If they aren’t functioning, you might not be able to detect a problem they’d warn you about,” Car and Driver says. “But if you don’t understand what a warning light means—or choose to ignore it—a small problem could turn into a bigger, more expensive, and potentially dangerous issue.”
That sounds easy but it can be tricky because sometimes it’s not clear what those lit icons are representing. And they’re not necessarily consistent from vehicle to vehicle – one might have a light that says “check engine,” while another shows a representation of an engine, for example.
The check engine light is probably the most feared of the warning signals. It can indicate anything from benign – your gas cap is loose – to serious – the heart of your engine is in trouble. It refers to anything related to your car’s motor and emissions system.
“If the check-engine light illuminates while you’re driving and everything seems fine with the car, don’t panic, but don’t ignore it, either. Get the vehicle to a mechanic to run a diagnostic test and source the problem,” Car and Driver says.
Car and Driver adds, “Should the light turn on and the vehicle suddenly begin operating erratically or making strange noises, pull over immediately and call for a tow. This means there’s a far more serious problem, such as a misfire that could permanently damage the car’s engine. Ignoring a blinking check-engine light could mean putting yourself at risk, and ruining your car’s powertrain.”
Some cars have a light that looks like a thermometer inside a gear. That’s to let you know your transmission’s temperature is too high. Car and Driver explains, “This might be caused by excessively heavy towing, low transmission fluid levels, or, more seriously, excessive wear on the inner workings of the transmission.”
One of the more obscure lights has an exclamation point inside a circle enclosed in parentheses. This is connected to your braking system. It can come on if you drive with your parking brake on or if there’s something more serious like worn brake pads, low brake fluid levels, or a problem with the anti-lock braking system.
Those are just three of the lights you might encounter while driving. If one or more does come on and you can’t track it down to a simple issue, then it’s time to take your car to a trusted Wichita auto care specialist. You can find a reliable Wichita auto care pro at Tracy’s Automotive.
Tracy’s Automotive is here to help you. If you don’t have time or feel you can take your car to the shop, Tracy’s Automotive will pick it up at your home or work. Then, after your car is serviced or repaired, Tracy’s Automotive will bring it back to you thoroughly cleaned.
Tracy’s passion for a better tire buying, auto care and auto repair experience drove us to develop the model of Tracy’s Automotive Tire Pros. Tracy’s has turned hard work and inspiration into a booming tire and auto repair provider. Now Tracy’s has three locations and serves customers all over Wichita and Goddard. Tracy’s is thrilled to be a part of your family’s trusted brands for all auto repair and tire needs.
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